WELLINGTON, Fla., February 19, 2022–Mayer Ranch won the opening game of the Sieber Memorial Friday at Grand Champions Polo Club.
By Sharon Robb
Mayer Ranch (Ken Mayer, 0, Brendon Stenzel, 2, Juan Monteverde, 5, Matt Coppola, 5) rallied in the second half for a 13-10 victory over Beverly Polo (Wil Ballhaus, -1, Bill Ballhaus, 0, Tolito Ocampo, 7, Hilario Figueras, 5).
It was just a matter of time before Mayer Ranch jelled as a team. Playing together for the first time during the 2022 season, the foursome had only one practice before the 12-goal season opened in January with the Limited Edition 12-Goal Series which Mayer Ranch lost to defending champion Dundas, 12-9, in the final.
“The team has been jelling,” said the 27-year-old Coppola. “In the last final we had a couple bad breaks. We had a good chance of winning but it just didn’t go our way which happens sometimes. I think the team is doing well and every game we are getting better.”
Beverly Polo took an early lead, 2-1, in the first chukker and maintained it, 5-3, after the second chukker. Mayer Ranch regained its composure in the third chukker, outscoring Beverly Polo, 3-1. Stenzel and Coppola scored in the first threee minutes. Monteverde’s 30-yard penalty conversion with 22 seconds left ended the third chukker tied at 6-6.
The second half was all Mayer Ranch, outscoring Beverly Polo, 7-4. Mayer Ranch shut out Beverly Polo, 4-0, in the fourth chukker with three goals from Coppola, who was playing on his prized 8-year-old Argentine-bred mare Tara. He added another great cut shot goal with 2:11 left to put the game out of reach.
“She went really well, I made four goals on her,” Coppola said.
Coppola has played with Mayer and Stenzel in several tournaments. He played with Monteverde a few years ago. When looking for a 5-goaler to complete the roster, Stenzel and Coppola thought Monteverde would be “a perfect fit.”
“We’re all friends off the field,” Coppola said. “I think when we are on the field we all have each other’s back. We play hard for each other. Everybody has a job on the team and I think everybody is fulfilling their job.”
The competitive 12-goal league play at Grand Champions Polo Club continues to impress both players and fans.
“It is highly competitive,” Coppola said. “A lot of people have put very good teams together, but I think the level of horses has been a huge step in making the 12-goal better. Everybody is coming well-mounted. It definitely makes a difference.
“There’s a lot of good teams, but I think after winning today we have a good shot of at least making the semifinals,” Coppola said. “This is a good start. I think we have a good chance of making the final again.”
Monteverde scored a game-high seven goals to lead Mayer Ranch. Coppola added six, including four in the fifth and sixth chukkers.
Ocampo led Beverly Polo with five goals. Figueras had three and Bill Ballhaus added one. The team picked up one goal on handicap.
In Saturday action at 11 a.m. at Jan Pamela Field, Orea Polo (Petra Sobotova, -1, Justin Daniels, 2, Santi Torres, 7, Carlitos Gracida, 4) takes on Excalibor (Robert Mashaal, 0, Nachi Viana, 4, Matias MacDonough, 3, Martin Jauregui, 5).
The tournament is named in honor of polo player Robert J. Sieber, Jr., who died in a polo-related accident August 22, 1984 at Oak Brook, Ill. He was 29.
Defending champion is Dundas (Cable Magness, Juan Cruz Marcos, Hugo Taylor, Tatu Gomez Romero), 12-10 winners over Newport (Gene Goldstein, Milo Dorignac, Michel Dorignac Nick Manifold). Romero was Most Valuable Player. Leona, played by Magness, was Best Playing Pony.
Eight teams are competing in the two-week tournament. Twelve games are scheduled to determine four semifinal teams for the March 3 doubleheader at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The championship and subsidiary final are Sunday, March 6 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Grand Champions, the nation’s largest and busiest polo club celebrating its 15th anniversary, is coming off its most successful fall season. Club officials hope to build off that success when it hosts 23 tournaments from January through April.
Already under way with the All-Star Challenge is the World Polo League, the only 26-goal polo played outside of Argentina co-founded by Marc and Melissa Ganzi.
The world-class league will run through April 16. In addition to the All-Star Challenge, the remaining WPL events are the inaugural Tommy Hitchcock Legacy Memorial, Feb. 27; Founders Cup, Feb. 23-March 13; Palm Beach Open, March 9-27; Triple Crown of Polo, March 23-April 16 and Beach Polo World Cup Miami Beach, April 29-May 1.
Grand Champions has also added Sunset Chukkers and Cocktails, presented by Seminole Casino Coconut Creek held Tuesday late afternoon on Field One for players and guests.
The high goal club tournaments feature the Sterling Cup, $100,000 World Cup and Santa Rita Abierto.
The 16-goal league play includes the Grand Champions Cup, Power Horse Invitational and Pedro Morrison Memorial.
The 12-goal league continues with the current Sieber Memorial Trophy, this week’s $50,000 National 12-Goal and Mar. 8-26 Top Pony 12-Goal.
After January’s successful Aspen Valley Cup, the 8-goal tournament schedule continues with the 5 Top Pony 8-Goal and Limited Edition 8-Goal.
The 6-goal schedule features the Metropolitan Cup, also underway; Halo Polo Trophy and Madelon Bourdieu Memorial.
There is also the Polo School Grand Champions Women’s League, co-founded by Melissa Ganzi and Alina Carta, for all ages and playing ability held Wednesdays at 10 a.m. at Santa Rita Polo Farm.
Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique private 100-acre polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in several self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation and stick-and-ball fields.
During fall, winter and spring seasons, Grand Champions Polo Club, the nation’s largest club with 13 well-manicured, world-class fields at GCPC and Santa Rita Polo Farm, hosts polo tournaments ranging from six to 26-goal including the 26-goal World Polo League in addition to special events.
The Polo School, now located at the former Pony Express facility owned by Melissa and Marc Ganzi, operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. For more information on the Fall Leagues or Polo School contact Director of Operations Juan Bollini at 561-346-1099 or General Manager Cale Newman at 561-876-2930.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.